Mississippi State’s 2nd leading rusher this season, Dillon Johnson, has entered the transfer portal ahead of the Reliaquest Bowl in Tampa against Illinois. On his way out of Miss. St. he had some parting words about his Miss St. head coach Mike Leach :
“Since I am not very tough, and Leach is glad I am leaving, I will be entering my name into the transfer portal,” Johnson posted. The full message is below:
— Dillon Johnson (@Dill_7k) December 8, 2022
Reliaquest Bowl Illinois vs #22 Mississippi St. FYIs
Kickoff: Jan. 2, noon ET, ESPN2
Spread: MSU -1.5 -110 Money Line, O/U 45.5 Illini -105 ML
Illini Bowl Game History: go here
Key Stat: Illinois is first in the FBS in 12.3 ppg allowed
Wow! That is certainly not subtle. Not one bit. So what is the backstory here? Who knows for sure, but Johnson did share with the media, after the Bulldogs beat arch-rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving, his belief that the Bulldogs offense needs to be more balanced. MSU was next to last, nationally, in the entire FBS in rushing yards per game this season. In fact, they only average 23 rushes per game, as the Mississippi State offense throws the ball 68% of the time.
It is called the Mike Leach Air Raid offense for a reason. It is his way or the highway, and Johnson had to have known that when he committed with the Bulldogs in the first place. So while he does have a point about the O being too pass happy, this is what he signed up for.
Plus, no coach is going to look at comments like that and not think “insubordination.”
So Dillon Johnson will not be a part of a great strength versus strength match-up. State’s pass-crazy offense versus Illinois’ #1 ranked pass defense. We’ll see if the Illini secondary can help break the orange and blue bowl hex.
In 19 previous bowl trips, the Illini have faced three SEC opponents, and lost to all three: 1982 Liberty to Alabama, 1988 All-American to Florida and 2002 (’01 season) Sugar to LSU.
The Illini also have the Big Ten’s second longest bowl victory drought (2011).
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”